Editorial: Can we really ensure campus safety?

 

Statue outside the student center

With the ever-increasing gun violence in America, schools across the country are trying to be prepared in the unfortunate case that theirs is next. According to Sgt. Keith Flores with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, out of the 52 recorded mass shootings in 2015, 21 were in college or university settings. (See related A5 story “Active shooter scenario…”)

Although the possibility of an incident occurring at Washtenaw Community College seems unimaginable, taking the precaution to make sure that not only employees, but also students, are ready is not a bad idea.

The creation of Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate training was a result of the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School. WCC’s employees have undergone ALICE for a number of years, and some students have taken part in the training as well.

Even though it’s distressing that schools and other institutions have to take these precautionary steps because of the instability of the country, it’s better to be prepared and have nothing happen, than have something happen and not be prepared.

But, how has the implementation of active shooter training affected campuses? Schools are supposed to be places of growth, education and safety. Not a place where students should have to feel like they need to fight for their survival.

Incorporating students into the training is timely, since the school is trying to revamp its security by negotiating a contract with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department and adopting an undetermined number of armed officers on campus.

While taking into consideration the fact that this is not an unusual occurrence on school grounds, having police officers in an educational setting requires special skill sets. Since students, faculty and staff are not used to having officers on campus, the concern for an “uptick” in arrests has been brought up on a few occasions in the Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees meetings.

While the longer the school waits may leave potential for threats, this is not a decision to be made lightly. With the board agreeing to negotiate a contract with the local Sheriff’s Department, it is paramount that the campus community remains involved in the decision-making processes.

It is more than understandable to be prepared in the event of a tragedy, but it is scary that students should have to consider whether or not attending their safe school space will put them in the crosshairs of another massacre. Adding armed officers may seem like the only option for those who fear for the worst, however, adding more guns to the scenario may not be the best answer. Let the campus community decide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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